Applications for a £9.5 million government pilot to bolster teacher training in the further education sector have opened today.

The Department for Education has announced a four-week bidding window for the FE Professional Development Grants pilots, which will run in 2021/22.

They will focus on strengthening staff’s skills and confidence in using technology to deliver education, as well as subject-specific development to improve curriculum design and teaching, learning, and assessment.

There will also be “tailored” support for the sector’s new and inexperienced teachers to help career progression and aid retention.


Teacher training pilots ‘will unlock even more potential’

Gillian Keegan

Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan says the pilots “will make sure the sector can develop and grow and unlock even more potential”.

Further education colleges and training providers have been invited to “partner up” and submit bids for funding to develop professional development approaches which are evidence-based, allow for peer-to-peer support, and have outcomes sustainable over a long period of time.

Association of Colleges deputy chief executive Kirsti Lord said the core focus on technology, subject-specific development and the retention of new teachers is “timely” owing to the pandemic and the shift to online training.

“Colleges are well used to working together on quality improvement and CPD; this fund will enable those collaborating to provide high quality CPD in a variety of areas and specialisms which it would be challenging to deliver individually.”

Association of Employment and Learning Providers Jane Hickie said she was “confident that a collaborative approach for bids will bring forward some really innovative ideas that will have a positive impact”.


Guidance will be released today

The money forms part of the government’s promise in January’s Skills for Jobs white paper to take spending on the sector workforce to £65 million in 2021/22.

The paper said the government “will encourage more organisations with relevant expertise to provide high-quality and evidence-based training and development for teaching staff in the sector”.

This builds on the work of the WorldSkills Centre of Excellence, run in partnership with awarding organisation NCFE, which sent the trainers of the UK’s ‘Skills Olympics’ competitors to share best practice with college and ITP teachers.

In February, the Department for Education launched a tender worth £3 million to expand the Taking Teaching Further programme and bring as many as 4,000 people into the sector.

A new ‘Teach in Further Education’ digital information platform and a national recruitment campaign were also promised in the white paper.

Providers have until Friday 16 July to apply for the pilots, and providers will be told the outcome of their application after 1 September.

The Department for Education has said guidance, including an application form, will be released today.

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